Dear Master Gardener: What are the popular gardening trends for 2023?
Answer: After reviewing various U.S. and British gardening sources on the 2023 trends and reflecting on the most frequently requested gardening presentations from garden clubs, the big gardening trends for 2023 seem to be the following:
- Growing houseplants continues to be very popular. Houseplant enthusiasts are becoming more adventuresome and growing unusual and/or exotic plants.
- Creating inviting outdoor living spaces continues to also be quite popular; for example, adding a fire pit, water feature, outdoor kitchen, pizza oven, dining or conversation areas.
- Cottage gardens, which have been popular with British gardeners for many years, are now in vogue with American gardeners. The key characteristics of a cottage garden include an informal design, an abundance of plants and lots of color. Old-fashioned favorites such as roses, larkspur, peonies, hollyhocks and perennial salvias are often found in cottage garden designs. In order to avoid the hodge-podge look that a cottage garden can create, try to stay with a color scheme of three colors such as purple, pink and white.
- Gardeners are becoming more conscientious about adding native plants for pollinators. Sustainable gardens and less lawn are in style.
- Kitchen gardens came back into popularity with COVID-19 stay at home restrictions, and that trend of growing your own food continues to be popular for 2023.
- Vertical gardening, cutting gardens and sanctuary gardens are also very trendy at this time.
Dear Master Gardener: I received an anthurium as a gift and the tag says to water it once a week with five ice cubes. Do you recommend watering a tropical plant with ice?
Using ice cubes to water plants like this anthurium allow for the slow release of the correct amount of water.
Contributed / Jennifer Knutson
Answer: Until I read the recent research from Ohio State University, I would have said no. It seems counterintuitive to water tropical plants with ice cubes; after all, in nature they aren’t watered with ice cubes. Historically Phalaenopsis orchids have also been sold with tags recommending watering with ice cubes. The reasoning behind watering plants with a certain number of ice cubes is to provide a slow release of the correct amount of water. The big question is — do ice cubes cause damage to the plant? Ohio State University and the University of Georgia conducted experiments to answer that question. At both locations 48 Phalaenopsis orchids were evaluated for 4-6 months. Half the orchids were watered with ice cubes and half were watered with the equivalent amount of room temperature water. The results of the study showed that orchids watered with ice cubes had the same flower longevity and display life as those watered with room temperature water. Leaf and root health were determined by measuring chlorophyll content. The temperature of the bark media did drop to only 51-56 degrees, but returned to its pre-watering temperature of 70 degrees five hours later. The internal temperature of roots directly exposed to ice cubes decreased to around 40 degrees, but experiments on root segments showed no damage from cold temperatures until they reached 20 degrees. The two universities concluded that it is safe to water Phalaenopsis orchids growing in bark media with ice cubes. With that said, my Anthurium is not growing in bark. It is planted in a soil mix and the lower leaves are touching the soil, so I personally will not water mine with ice cubes. With both Anthurium and orchids, I take the inner plastic container out of the ceramic one, water the plant thoroughly, let it drain completely, then put it back in the ceramic container. I water it again when the soil feels dry to the touch.
Anthurium is a beautiful houseplant native to Columbia and Ecuador. An Anthurium, which is in the arum family, has drooping, dark green waxy, heart-shaped leaves. Its showy, long-lasting blooms have a yellow spadix and large, flat, waxy bright red spathes. In favorable growing conditions it will flower throughout the year. It prefers bright, indirect light, high humidity and consistent moisture. For those interested in adding an Anthurium to your houseplant collection and adding a pop of color to your home, you should be able to find them at a local garden center or florist.
Dear Master Gardener: I built raised beds this fall that are two feet high. My wife and I are going to make them vegetable and fruit gardens in the spring. What type of soil should we fill them with?
Answer: There are many advantages to raised bed gardening. Raised beds warm up quicker in spring and the soil is more productive because it is not compacted by being walked on. Raised beds also have better soil structure and drainage compared to ground-level gardens.
Suitable soil is critical for producing healthy plants in your raised beds. Existing topsoil may be used in raised beds, but because we have sandy or heavy clay soils in this area, adding organic matter is crucial, and will greatly improve the physical and chemical make-up of the soil, making it more productive. Good sources of organic matter include peat moss, compost and decomposed manures. Maintaining high levels of organic matter is particularly important in raised beds because like all containers, even large ones, they tend to dry out quickly. If you bring in additional soil, make sure it comes from a source where there are no soil-borne pathogens or contaminants (lead, herbicides, or pesticides). You may be able to find a local vendor who sells topsoil already mixed with compost. The University of Maryland Extension recommends a mixture of compost and soil at a 1:2 or 1:1 ratio. You will probably need to add 2 to 4 inches of amended soil each year.
Because you will be growing vegetables and fruit, you may want to get your soil tested. To get your soil tested at the University of Minnesota soil testing laboratories, please download the instructions and form at their website,
You may get your garden questions answered by calling the new Master Gardener Help Line at 218-824-1068 and leaving a message. A Master Gardener will return your call. Or, emailing me at email@example.com and I will answer you in the column if space allows.
University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners are trained and certified volunteers for the University of Minnesota Extension. Information given in this column is based on university research.